Lion Hunt – Rubens (c.1615)

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Of late I have spent a lot of time looking for unusual works of art from the Renaissance period and I came across this wonderful sketch by Rubens which I wanted to share with you.

Rubens was born in Siegen, Westphalia on June 28, 1577 and spent the first 10 years of his life in Cologne. His early artistic training is a fascinating read in itself but it is his time travelling Italy that was his most productive. I will write more on his life and artistic influence in another piece.

Lion Hunt (74 x 105.5cm) (c.1615) is an oil sketch on wooden panel (Rubens preferred to work on wood panel in the planning stages for a painting) and is so interesting on a number of levels. Firstly, it is monocromatic but this element of itself draws you to the painting because you need to focus more diligently on its composition and detail – revealing how Rubens was thinking as he sketched out his thoughts. 

Secondly, this is such a dynamic piece of art, that the fact it is unfinished, detracts nothing from the impact that it has upon the viewer. Look at the horse’s head – it captures the fear of the moment in such a powerful way. The structual power of the lion – back legs in the rump of the horse -is almost humanlike and is doubtless the source of the fear of the horse. The sketch of the fleeing horse in background adds to the panic and intensity which Rubens was clearly aiming to create.

There is such tension and urgency. movement and energy in this sketch that the each element is so palpable – you almost want to finish the work so that it all comes together, but this work is complete in its incompleteness.

I adore it – so I hope you will seek it out and enjoy it.

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